Between the outdated guidelines that don't apply to modern nuptials and the self-imposed ideas that couples pick up about a what a wedding is "supposed to be," there will never be one big day blueprint that works for everyone. But there are a few "rules" that you should stick to no matter what. Whether you're a bride, groom, or wedding guest, here are 20 you should definitely follow.
If you’re the couple…
1. Don't invite someone to a pre-wedding party if you don't plan on inviting them to the wedding. Inviting someone to your shower and not the big day? That's a no-no (and it'll likely lead to hurt feelings).
2. Don't include your registry information on your wedding invitation. Instead, add your registry to your wedding website and include a link on your stationery suite. You never want to look like you're soliciting gifts.
3. Never invite a guest to your wedding via text message or social media platform. A little bit of thought goes a long way. And the same goes for thank-you notes!
4. If you send someone save the date, you must send them a wedding invite. Yes, even if they've already told you they can't make it on the big day. Not sending an invitation suggests that they are no longer invited, and that's surely not the case.
5. If you know the name of your guest's plus one, include it on the invitation. It'll make them feel truly welcome. Of course, if you're simply offering someone a plus one and don't know who they'll bring, "and Guest" is fine.
6. Your RSVP return card should include postage. It's common courtesy to pre-stamp your RSVP envelopes or postcards so guests don't need to purchase postage.
7. Get your marriage license well before your wedding day. Check the laws in your state, as the window is often relatively small. But make sure not to get it too early, either.
8. Always feed your wedding vendors. From your wedding planner to the band, everyone is working hard for you all day long. Make sure to speak to your caterer about supplying them with meals.
9. If someone sends you a gift, you must send them a thank-you card. No ifs, ands, or buts! A thoughtful, handwritten note is always best.
If you’re the guest…
10. Don't RSVP "yes" if there is a chance you won't be able to make it to the wedding. If you're uncertain or need more time, have an honest conversation with the couple. An empty "yes" can cause major headcount headaches.
11. If you get a plus one, RSVP with the person's name. That way the couple can include his or her name on the guest list, escort cards, and any other printed materials.
12. Always send your RSVP card back in a timely manner. If nothing else, make sure it's sent by the RSVP date listed on the invitation.
13. If the invitation specially says no children allowed, don't ask if you can bring your kids. Feel free to reach out to the couple about local babysitters or other childcare options. If it's unclear if children are invited or not, you may need to politely ask.
14. If your invitation specifies the name of your plus one, and that person can't make it, don't bring a friend instead. Unless the bride or groom has given you the green light, the only people invited to the wedding are those addressed on the envelope.
15. If you don't get a plus one, don't bring a plus one. If you're invitation doesn’t say "and Guest," then it's safe to assume that you've been invited solo. Your best off not asking the couple to make exceptions.
16. Arrive at the wedding events on time. It's just common courtesy, right?
17. Don't skip the ceremony. Sure, everyone's excited to party. But your presence at the actual "I do's" is a must.
18. Turn the sound off on your phone during the wedding. While some couples may be okay with smartphone photos, turn off the flash sound, ringer, alarms, vibration, and any other disruptive alert.
19. Don't wear a white dress (unless you're asked to). Since white is reserved for the bride, steer clear of cream and ivory, too.
20. Don't get too drunk. Make the most of the open bar, but know your limits. Don't cause a scene at the wedding and be sure you can get yourself home safely at the end of the night.